Using Regulated Chemicals? Watch Your Profits Evaporate

March 1998

Reducing or eliminating hazardous substances is an important business decision. When you use hazardous chemicals in your processes, you are not just making a one-time purchase of the material, you are also paying for:

  • Proper storage and disposal
  • Permits
  • Protecting worker health
  • submitting required reports
  • training employees
  • These costs add up, and finding alternatives to these substances should be a priority. Alternatives are available and often out-perform old process equipment and chemicals.

    As an extended service of _____________________________________________, you will receive a series of fact sheets to help you learn how to investigate, select and use waste minimization opportunities for your industry. Most often, reducing or eliminating the use of hazradous substances can help your company:

  • Comply with environmental regulations and cut your paperwork burden;
  • Reduce costs by using fewer materials;
  • Cut waste transportation and disposal costs; and
  • Reduce long-term liability and insurance costs.
  • This fact sheet takes a closer look at the costs associated with using hazardous substances and generating waste streams.

    dwindling profits

    Bottom Line Busters
    Operating a business using raw materials that contain regulated chemicals costs money. Estimated costs of using hazardous substances and generating wastes often are inaccurate because many of the "hidden" costs are unaccounted for. On Page 2 are typical costs and activities that often are overlooked when estimating the total costs of processes that use hazardous substances and generate wastes. Also detailed is a step-by-step approach you can take to reduce or eliminate those costs through pollution prevention.



    Receiving Area
    Spill response equipment
    Emergency response plan

    Raw Materials Storage
    Storage facilities
    Secondary containment
    Right-to-know training
    Reporting and records
    Safety training
    Container labels

    Process Area
    Safety equipment
    Right-to-know training
    Worker exposure
    Waste collection equipment
    Emission control equipment
    Sampling and testing
    Reporting and records

    Solid and Hazardous Waste
    Sampling and testing
    Labels and labeling
    Storage areas
    Transportation fees
    Disposal fees

    Air, Water Emissions Control
    Permit preparation
    Permit fees
    Capital costs
    Operating expenses
    Recovered materials
    Inspection and monitoring
    Recording and reporting
    Sampling and testing
    Emergency planning
    Discharge fees



    The most effective way to reduce the costs of complying with requirements in the Clean Air Act Amendments and other environmental regulations is to stop using the materials that are regulated in the first place. Reducing or eliminating waste and the use of hazardous substances is called “pollution prevention.” The following pollution prevention approach can help your company:


    The Pollution Prevention Approach

    Step 1: Establish a small group of people in the facility to sit down and have a waste minimization brainstorming session. To help gain the most from this session:

    Step 2: Determine from the group’s input the top three air emission sources, in terms of cost and quantity emitted. For example, write down the three air emission sources that are the most expensive to manage:

    1. Degreasing/surface preparation
    2. Solvent-based painting operations
    3. Parts washing in maintenance department
    Then, for example, write down the three air emission sources that have the highest level of raw material use:
    1. Solvent-based painting operations
    2. Degreasing/surface preparation
    3. Parts washing solvent

    Step 3: Focus on one of your listed items for your first pollution prevention effort. Talk to your suppliers and explain to them your interest in finding a way to eliminate the use of regulated chemicals. Ask if they supply other products that can get the job done without the added hazardous chemicals. Also, talk to your customers about changing specifications to allow the use of alternative process materials.

    Step 4: As time permits, evaluate opportunities to eliminate or reduce the second- and third- ranked waste streams. Continually look at all processes at your facility, and evaluate pollution prevention opportunities to reduce and eliminate hazardous substance use.



    For Free, Non-Regulatory Assistance and Referrals, contact PPRC.

    Produced by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, 513 First Ave. West, Seattle, WA 98119
    phone: 206-352-2050, fax: 206-352-2049, e-mail: office@pprc.org, WWW address: http://www.pprc.org